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Ukrainian television was switched off in Crimea on Thursday and replaced with Russian state channels.
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Putin’s “vertical of power” brand has well established the arc that is Putin-Assad-Khamenei, without which Syria’s initial revolution may have taken a turn toward the moderate.
Of course, it may be as useless second-guessing yesterday as trying to outwit tomorrow.
Nonetheless, one tries.
Along The Bear’s southern flank in eastern Europe, the potential arc “Putin-Orbán-Yanukovych” would seem to be enjoying significantly less success. Suddenly stateless Viktor Yanukovych appears to have leaped into Mother Bear’s arms (or off a roof somewhere — who knows? He’s missing in action); Viktor Orbán appears to have chosen an energy-based stance founded on a nuclear power development agreement with Russia (that may in time transform Hungary into an energy exporting state) while nonetheless hewing to NATO and European interests and values, clearly rebuffing interest Putin may have in recovering or retaining Soviet-era buffer and client states in eastern Europe.
Simply put, Orban has successfully noted the difference between doing business with a Great Power and kissing its ass at the same time.
Not everyone sees Orban as standing strong for European democratic and open society values:
According to LMP politician Katalin Ertsey, who also serves as a deputy chairman of the committee, the Hungarian position in the Ukraine-Russian conflict is “as invisible as Vladimir Putin would like it to be”.
However, Orban’s national security arrangement with NATO and his greater constituency’s pro-European stance better fit a cool-tough trade relationship with Moscow than a warm fuzzy between autocrats with the “vertical of power” at its center.
If the rightness doesn’t make the argument, the wrongness most certainly does: along with the rest of the world, Orban saw what has happened to Yanukovych (and his estates, which have been seized as “frozen assets”).
Putin $14 Billion Nuclear Deal Wins Orban Alliance – Bloomberg – 1/15/2014: “For Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who as opposition leader in 2007 railed against turning his country into the “happiest barrack of Gazprom,” the persuasion took the shape of an offer to lend the country as much as $14 billion. Orban trekked to Moscow yesterday to hand Rosatom Corp., Russia’s state nuclear holding company, a deal to expand Hungary’s lone nuclear power plant using that loan.”
Related: The Putin-Orbán nuclear deal: a short assessment | Heinrich Böll Foundation – 1/27/2014: “A resource-poor country with shaky economic fundaments would make major investments in order to become an energy exporter, and subsidies provided by Hungarian taxpayers would be redistributed among foreign consumers. Around 55-65% of the country’s electricity production would be based on Russian technology, operating at a single location (Paks). This is a project with an obscure past and a murky future.”
Wikipedia Section: Viktor Orbán – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – “At the age of 14 and 15, he was a secretary of the communist youth organisation (KISZ) of his secondary grammar school. In 1988, Orbán was one of the founding members of Fidesz (an acronym for Fiatal Demokraták Szövetsége, English: Alliance of Young Democrats). The first members were mostly students who opposed the Communist regime.”;
BackChannels Section: Paranoid Delusional Narcissistic Reflection of Motivation | BackChannels – I’ve include this reference to concept predicting that Putin will accuse Ukrainian nationalists of fomenting conflict over Crimea while enjoying the services of Russian nationalist militia in Crimea to help him wrest it from Ukraine. Moreover, the manner in which Putin has presented to Russians (via RT and other state media) the Syrian Civil War may not be so easily repeated in eastern Europe. Word on Crimea gets around in English, Ukrainian, and Russian, and Russians in Crimea and Russia may demand and expect a complete, accurate, and clear explanation for a separatism devolving back to Putin’s own penchant for inexhaustible self-aggrandizement, rather well illustrated by that $52 billion price tag for Sochi (while in the same period Russia pledged $10 million to ease the suffering of Syria’s displaced population).
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